The Yates Memo is alive and well. Even if the Justice Department revises and clarifies the Yates Memo, the substance of what Sally Yates was communicating is alive and kicking. That is, if individuals violate the law, they will be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Over the past 10 days or so, the Justice Department unveiled a total of seven charging documents for FCPA violations, five arising from the Rolls Royce enforcement action and two from an upcoming enforcement action against SBM Offshore. Six of those individuals have pled guilty and one is fugitive from justice.
In the Rolls Royce matter the defendants were involved in a wide-ranging corruption scheme used by RR to pay bribes to receive international contracts, primarily around a gas pipeline in Central Asia which it built for a Joint Venture (JV) owned by Kazakhstan and Chinese state-owned enterprises. In the SBM matter, the former CEO authorized $16 million in payments pursuant to agreements in place prior to his assuming the position of CEO. The payments were made to foreign officials at Petrobas in Brazil, to Sonangol in Angola, and GEPetrol in Equatorial Guinea.
All of these investigations have been going on for a period of years. Indeed, one of the Rolls Royce defendants pled guilty back in 2016 well before the international corruption settlement involving the US, the UK and Brazil was publicly announced. All of this means the Justice Department has diligently been pursuing individuals for some period of time, all the while taking criticism that individuals were not being prosecuted.
There are two very direct lessons to be drawn from these prosecutions and indictment. The international scope of bribery and corruption investigations will continue and will be aggressively pursued by the Justice Department and in conjunction with anti-corruption agencies across the globe. It also means the Yates Memo is alive, well and an ongoing priority of the prior Justice Department and the current Justice Department.